A map and a 7-year-old show how much the 'vaccine war' has changed in 5 years.

How'd we even get to this point?

Odds are you've heard measles mentioned in the news recently. And what they say is true: Cases are on the rise. The maps don't lie.

Here's what measles looked like 5 years ago:


Fast forward to today:

Some blame it all on poor herd immunity.

Herd immunity ... what?! It's a term that has been floating around a lot lately. It's basically when large percentages of a community have become immune to a contagious disease through a vaccination. Because they are immune, there is little opportunity for an outbreak, and they are able to protect the people around them who are unable to safely receive the vaccination.

So when a person doesn't get vaccinated against a disease — but could — it can weaken the “herd" and look something like this:

Situation 1: No one is immunized. Contagious disease spreads through the population.

Situation 2: Some of the population gets immunized. Contagious disease spreads through some of the population.

Situation 3: Most of the population gets immunized. Spread of contagious disease is contained.

Rhett Krawitt isn't vaccinated.

In California, 7-year-old Rhett Krawitt is at risk of turning from blue to red on that chart above. It's not because he doesn't want to be vaccinated — it's because his immune system is too weak to handle it (thanks for absolutely nothing, leukemia). So he and his family must rely on the people around him to stay healthy until his body is strong enough to handle vaccines. There are hundreds of other kids just like him.

But more and more parents are deciding to not vaccinate their kids these days, for a number of reasons. And depending on the state they live in, that's legally OK. But if people are getting sick because of it ... well, then that seems like it'd cause some problems.

It comes down to the question: Should parents be required to vaccinate their kids?

Right now, it all depends where you live.

There are two main non-medical ways parents are able to say "no" to getting their kids vaccinated:

  • A religious exemption (48 states allows this)
  • A personal belief exemption (almost half of all states allow this)

It'll be interesting to see what happens to those numbers. So far in 2015, at least 19 states have introduced legislation addressing both of these exemptions. For instance, in California, where Rhett lives, legislators have introduced a measure to end the state's personal belief exemption. In Missouri, a House bill requires that parents be notified if any student at their child's school has not been immunized.

We can all agree: No one wants a sick kid.

But should kids like Rhett be able to dictate the laws for everyone?

Click here to see your state's vaccine laws — and if legislators are trying to change them.

More
True
Gates Foundation

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared